London based freelance designer and illustrator Lilla Bardenova loves to travel, which means her workspaces are constantly changing. We’re thrilled to chat with her today about how she stays organized and why she believes good habits and balance are more important than any tools and workspace. Keep reading to get a glimpse into her full-time freelance lifestyle.
Where do you work? Tell us about your space.
I’ve been full-time freelancing for the past two years and I’ve learned to magically turn any place into a working space. I try to travel as much as I possibly can so I often find myself working from cafés, Airbnbs, museums, planes, buses, or boats etc. However, I’ve set up a tidy little workspace for the rare occasion when I’m actually home.
I live in a small studio so I keep things organized and functional. Even though I rarely sketch on paper now, I’ve got my drawing materials at hand: I have a mood board where I put all the things I find inspiring, and I have a desk that perfectly fits my iPad, laptop, a cup of tea, and my tiny self.
What hardware and software do you use to create your designs?
My set of tools for illustration are an iPad Pro (with pencil and Procreate which I’ve grown to love so much), Adobe Illustrator, and occasionally, Astropad. For design, I use a MacBook Pro with Photoshop, Indesign, and Sketch.
Tell us about your routine (or lack of one.) How do you structure your days to get things done?
Working from home (or on the go) can be really challenging without a routine. Because I love what I do so much, I get invested in whatever I’m working on to a point that sometimes I forget to eat, drink enough water, or actually go to sleep on time.
I keep on top of things by writing lists—a whole lot of them. It’s easy to fall behind, especially if you’re working on multiple projects at the same time, so I use Todoist to keep track of what I need to do for the day: emails I need to follow up on, projects I need to start thinking about, projects I need to finalize, etc.
I am a morning person so I try to do as much work as I can before noon. After that, me and my dog Dexter go out for a run to clear our heads (or we find some time to snuggle and read a book or play a video game to unwind for a bit) and then I get back to work (and Dexter gets back to napping).
This changes slightly depending on whether I’m working from home or someplace else, but generally, that’s the plan.
I’ve found I’m most productive when I’ve established a good balance between client work, personal projects, physical activity, and travel. I’m doing my best to keep all that in place.
How do your space, tools, and habits benefit you? What about those things do you think need improvement?
I understand how privileged I am to be earning a living doing what I absolutely love, but I believe this is no reason for me to feel too comfortable.
It’s not about the space or the tools—it’s all about good habits and balance. I don’t settle too easily. The space I’m working in today will not be the same tomorrow, nor the day after. And I shouldn’t stay the same either.
I’m always trying to improve, not only as a designer and an illustrator but as a human being. My work is my biggest hobby, but I’m constantly on the lookout for new fun things to do that keep my productivity and creativity levels at a maximum. ■